For the second time in a month, Prime Minister François Legault had trouble starting Saturday with the daily’s journalist The Gazette assigned to health, Aaron Derfel. The Caquist leader blocked him on Twitter before retracing his steps, not without calling him a “journalist” in the meantime in quotes. The editor of the English-language newspaper, Lucinda Chodan, rejects the idea of a dispute between the CAQ and its publication, but reiterates that its door is open if the Prime Minister has complaints.
“I don’t want to talk too much about Twitter, but I don’t think there is an issue,” notes Mme Chodan. It is clear that we are doing what we always do, that is to say telling what is happening in Quebec, for the benefit of our audience, whether it is French, English or allophone. And what Aaron Derfel is doing is energetically covering the most important issue for Quebecers: COVID-19. “
Since the start of the pandemic, veteran journalist Aaron Derfel has been very active on the social network Twitter, where he dissects the figures and the state of the pandemic through long streaks of messages. It was his work on the CHSLD Herron in Dorval that revealed the serious situation that prevailed there.
The Prime Minister blocked him on the popular social platform on Saturday. When the reporter pointed out by raising concerns about press freedom, the columnist politician Chantal Hébert issued a simple “?…”, to which Mr. Legault replied: “When a“ journalist ”“ tricks ”me more than 10 times on Twitter saying that I am lying…” This last response created a shields, and Mr. Derfel later announced that the Prime Minister had backed down and released the journalist from The Gazette.
When a “journalist” tags me “more than 10 times on Twitter saying that I’m lying …
– François Legault (@francoislegault) June 6, 2020
Diplomat, Lucinda Chodan responded several times to Duty that “his door was open”, “If there are concerns about our coverage, if the Prime Minister has the feeling that there is something inappropriate in our journalism, I would be delighted to speak with him She said, adding that she would have no problem if the Press Council looked into the matter.
Already in mid-May, the head of the CAQ had been called to the press to comment on a survey which indicated that the fears aroused by the coronavirus were greater among Anglophones than among Francophones. Mr. Legault had suggested that Mr. Derfel’s work – which the Prime Minister had presented as “Aaron something “- and more broadly that of The Gazette had something to do with it.
Legault’s cabinet said on Saturday that the Prime Minister could clarify his thoughts at a press briefing on Monday, which was not the case. Questioned by The duty, the Prime Minister’s press secretary explained that the Prime Minister would not make “additional comments” and specified that “Mr. Legault has already had the opportunity to express his point of view” in his tweet and that “ the journalist’s account has been released ”.
It is clear that we are doing what we always do, that is to say telling what is happening in Quebec, for the benefit of our audience, whether it is French, English or allophone. And what Aaron Derfel is doing is energetically covering the most important issue for Quebecers: COVID-19.
These two close incidents can be explained by the heavy pressure on the Prime Minister due to an unprecedented situation, said the editor of Tea Gazette, and not on the work of her journalist, whom she describes as “hard-hitting” (hard-hitting). “He was also hard-hitting towards Gaétan Barrette, who, I believe, also considers him energetic and tireless. Same thing with the PQ before. [Aaron] has been very consistent in his career, he does honest, straightforward, uncompromising work to get to the bottom of things. “
Should we be worried about press freedom issues with the CAQ? “No, I have the feeling that this government was very open-minded, and even that it was the first in Canada to recognize that journalism and the media faced major issues even before COVID-19, with the dominance of Facebook and Google. “
A previous version of this text has been modified.